By Aaron Zabawa
“It’s the relationships you make along the way” (In Memoriam)
As a delegate of Boys State 1987, I reluctantly made my way from Norfolk to Lincoln. When we arrived in Lincoln, we were treated to warm greetings, a t-shirt, name-tag, and a hand shake. That was the first time I met Alden Johnson, the Education Director of Boys State. Later, I taught and coached at Lincoln High, where “Aldie” Johnson was a living legend. As Alden ended his career, I was just beginning mine. He was an outstanding trailblazer, leader and coach. Over the years, Alden Johnson and my son Alden Zabawa were frequent buddies at Cornhusker Boys’ State. The Legend and his namesake were often found in the back row sitting together and sharing stories that remain between them. Alden celebrated his 90th birthday this past summer with a surprise party at a golf course here in Lincoln. Alden Zabawa’s mother, sister and I were able to attend, and he later told me how glad he was to see us. As Alden’s health began to decline, my son and I made multiple trips to visit. Late in the evening the night before he passed away, the Johnson family allowed us to visit one last time. We shared a tear together, “rest coach, we got this”. While it is odd for me to look from the stage and not see him sitting in the back row of Kimball Hall, I know he is still with us in the most meaningful of ways. “Face the worst, believe the best, do your most, forget the rest” he would always say or write to me. Okay. It is not goodbye, but so long for now, “rest coach, we got this”.
Coach Alden “Aldie” Johnson (10/4/1926 – 11/17/2016)
An annual tradition at Boys’ State is the Friday trip to the state capitol. The legislature debates in the Warner chambers, the judicial branch hears cases behind the bench in the supreme courtroom, and delegates meet senators for a unicameral update. Additionally, a highlight is exploring the magnificent capitol building and catching a view from the observatory.
The Cornhusker Boys’ State Supreme Court was in session in the Nebraska State Supreme Courtroom at the State Capitol. In order to become a member of the judiciary, a CBS citizen must generally be appointed by the sitting Boys’ State Governor.
Citizens seeking a judicial appointment to either the Supreme Court or one of the two District Courts must appear before a nominating committee, typically comprised of each pair of candidates (Nationalist and Federalist) for high political office who survive the primary election. The nominating committee forwards it recommendations to the Governor for final appointment. Once appointed, members of the judiciary are formally sworn-in by a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court. In addition, the Cornhusker Boys’ State Supreme Court traditionally participates in a mock case within the dignified courtroom of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Riley Knust of Plymouth, NE and Tri County Schools has been elected the 77th Governor of American Legion Cornhusker Boys’ State. He is a citizen of the Boys’ State town of Valley Forge.
Lt. Governor Mike Foley was the keynote speaker at the Wednesday joint session of Boys’ and Girls State. Lt. Governor Foley addressed the students and answered their questions. Prior to the keynote address, the band and chorus performed for the 800 students in attendance. University of Nebraska coaches Amy Williams, Bob Diaco, and John Cook shared words of encouragement.